Saturday Morning Tea

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Good morning, dear tea friends! I was greeted by brilliant sunshine streaming through my windows as I padded down to my kitchen to prepare my morning tea. The days are getting longer as we march towards spring, and it’s exciting to have my path home from work now illuminated by the last light of the day. What’s in my cup today? You wouldn’t know it from my photos but I’m enjoying a pot of China Pu-Erh tea. This is very light for a Pu-Erh tea, you say? That’s because it’s a Sheng Cha, or “raw” Pu-Erh. There are 2 types of Pu-ehr, raw (Sheng or Qing) and cooked (Shou).

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Pu-Erh teas technically start out green but have a tea category all of their own because of their unique processing methods. Some people use the word “fermentation” when describing the oxidation process that turns tea leaves dark. In this instance, the correct term is “oxidation.” Pu-Erh leaves are truly fermented, in the sense of the word, because various components are introduced during processing that allow the leaves to ferment. This process is a long held secret. Leaves and tips (buds) are harvested and sun dried, much like white tea, and then the magic happens that creates Pu-Erh tea.

I used 180F water and steeped the leaves for 4 minutes.

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The aroma is sweet and earthy with a pronounced dried apricot note in both the wet leaves and the liquor.

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Even the tea liquor is a golden apricot color, giving this selection a stone fruit theme, for sure. The flavor is sweet, tempered by an earthiness and suggestion of tobacco. The stone fruit note is still there, however, not as strong as in the aroma.

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This is a great choice to start your exploration of Pu-Erh teas, if you haven’t tried them yet. Better yet, try this alongside some cooked Pu-Erh so you can enjoy the pronounced difference between them. And they all amazingly come from the same plant!

Tomorrow is a big day for us football fans here in New England. Our beloved Patriots are headed to the Super Bowl once again. Go Pats!!!

“If you ask me how I want to be remembered, it is as a winner. You know what a winner is? A winner is somebody who has given his best effort, who has tried the hardest they possibly can, who has utilized every ounce of energy and strength within them to accomplish something. It doesn’t mean that they accomplished it or failed, it means that they’ve given it their best. That’s a winner.”

~Walter Payton

 

Saturday Morning Tea

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Good morning, dear tea friends! Even though we’ve had a mild January overall here in New England, my dreams are calling to spring. With its rich floral character, this morning’s tea has answered my call. I’m happy to introduce you to a China Oolong tea, aptly named Floral Tie-Guan-Yin.

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The leaves are rolled into tight little bundles but look at the magic that happens during steeping, 3 minutes in 185F water.

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The bundles unfurl into enormous green leaves. This tea is a lightly oxidized Oolong so it’s more on the “greener” side.

I’m happy to share my favorite Tie-Guan-Yin story again!

Many years ago in Fujian Province in China, a poor tea farmer named Mr. Wei would walk by a temple everyday on his way to the tea fields. As each day passed, he noticed that no one cared for the temple so it was becoming quite run down. Inside he found a statue of Guan Yin, the bodhisattva of compassion. He did not have the means to fix up the temple but he felt that something needed to be done. One day he brought his broom and some incense. He lit the incense as an offering to the Goddess and swept the temple clean. That night Guan Yin came to him in a dream and told him of a cave where he would find a beautiful treasure for himself and to share with others. The treasure turned out to be a tea shoot which Mr. Wei planted and nurtured into a large tea bush, producing the finest tea in the region. He shared cuttings with all his neighbors and started calling the tea produced from this bush Tie-Guan-Yin. Mr. Wei and all his neighbors prospered and were able to restore the temple to its beauty and many came to gather there. Now Mr. Wei felt joy everyday as he passed the temple on the way to his tea fields.

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Look at that lovely golden color in my glass teapot. The aroma is filled with the fragrance of spring flowers and a touch of butter.

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With my first sip, the liquor fills my mouth with a silky buttery feeling. The floral notes predominate and are lifted up by the buttery notes. I feel the breath of fresh spring air already…mmmmm…

Tomorrow is a big day for New England football fans. Go Pats!!!

“It’s not whether you get knocked down; it’s whether you get back up.”

~Vince Lombardi

 

Saturday Morning Tea

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Good morning, dear tea friends! Happy New Year to you! We welcome a new tea year, too, with the harvests – Pre-Chingming, first flush Darjeeling, and more – only a few months away. I hold onto that hope of spring and new growth as I gaze out my window at the first snowflakes of a Nor’easter snowstorm making its way up the coast to us. It’s a good time to cozy inside with a pot of delicious tea, which is just what I’m doing. I’d like to introduce you to a green tea from China, called Fujian Green Snow Buds, the perfect tea name for today.

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The beautifully hand processed leaves have a goodly portion of downy tea buds. Located on the southeastern China coast, Fujian province is well known as a big tea producer. A heavily forested, mountainous environment with a subtropical climate makes it ideal for tea growing.

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I steeped the leaves for 3 minutes in 180F water. A savory aroma wafted up from the leaves as they released their flavor to the water.

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The light golden wheat colored liquor has a sweet, herbaceous fragrance, inviting me to take my first sip. The cup is delicate and buttery smooth with a lovely sweetness that envelops the flavor. I found notes of melon predominant, enhanced by a touch of honey.

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Today is a good day for a movie marathon with my knitting and a continuously filled pot of tea. Until next time, enjoy your tea!

“Snow was falling,
so much like stars
filling the dark trees
that one could easily imagine
its reason for being was nothing more
than prettiness.”

~Mary Oliver

Saturday Morning Tea

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Good morning, dear tea friends! Happy Christmas Eve to all who celebrate!

With thoughts of a white Christmas, I’ve pulled out my cherished Christmas tea mug and brewed up a pot of tea that has “snow” in its name – a first flush Darjeeling from the Singbulli Estate called “Snow White.” Its name derives from the abundance of tender white tips showcased in this lovely selection.

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Located in the picturesque Mirik area of Darjeeling in northeastern India, the organically certified Singbulli Estate was established in 1924 by British planters. Its 9 rolling hills are spread out over 14 miles, at an altitude that ranges from 1,200 feet to 4,100 feet.

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I steeped the leaves for 3 minutes in just under boiling point water. I noticed a lot of dust with this tea. The dust comes from the white hairs on the tips. When the leaves/tips are dried during processing, the hairs dry out, too, and create a “bloom” of fine particles.

The aroma has a fresh tropical fruit fragrance with hints of flowers. Mmmm….

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The tropical fruitiness carries over into the flavor of the golden liquor, with notes of pineapple. This tea has an intense “wake up your mouth” feel with a characteristic Darjeeling “bite.” It lifts up the fruity notes, adding a slight vegetal feel to them, and helps those notes to linger awhile in your mouth.

Another quintessential first flush tea from Singbulli, a tea garden that consistently produces stellar teas.

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I’m making my Christmas journey to Michigan in a couple of days. Another year is drawing to a close and what better way to celebrate than to gather together with those we love and share many cups of tea and good cheer.

To all of my dear tea friends who visit me here, have a wonderful holiday season!

I look forward to sharing more tea with you in 2017!

“Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!” 

~Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

Saturday Morning Tea

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Good morning, dear tea friends! A frigid wind is blowing in from the north and it’s beginning to feel more December-like around here. A great time for drinking lots of tea.

I came across a lovely tea this week, a perfect selection to slow down with and, hopefully, ease the stress that sometimes comes with the holiday season. Plus, I love its name – Jasmine White Monkey. From Fujian province in China, this silver tip green tea has been scented with jasmine flowers.

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The tea leaves are plucked in the springtime, processed as green tea and then stored until the jasmine plants get ready to bloom in the summer. The flower buds are plucked in the early morning and kept cool all day. As early evening approaches, the flower buds are mixed with the tea leaves. As the night blooming jasmine flowers open, the tea leaves absorb their scent. This process is repeated every day over the course of a week. Quite a bit of dedicated work goes into creating this unique tea.

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Most of the time, the dried flowers are separated from the leaves after scenting. Sometimes, the dried blossoms are left mixed in with the tea leaves. Since they’re dried out, their scent is gone so perhaps it’s for decoration? I find that the dried flowers may lend a sourness to the tea liquor so I prefer just the scented leaves for steeping my tea.

I steeped the leaves for 3 minutes using 180F spring water. As the leaves steeped, my kitchen smelled like a spring garden. mmmm….

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The leaves infused a golden wheat colored liquor. This tea is much more robust than some of the delicate jasmine selections. You can really taste the green tea so the jasmine scenting isn’t the predominant flavor. These two flavors, vegetal and floral, balance nicely. I also found a balance of sweetness with astringency that lingers into the finish.

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This afternoon, I’m getting together with some dear art friends who I haven’t seen in years. Just like taking a break and sitting down with a cup of tea, it’s important to jump off the carousel of busy day-to-day life and connect with good friends. It rejuvenates my spirit.

Enjoy the season and many delicious cups of tea!

Saturday Morning Tea

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Good morning, dear tea friends! A heavy dampness hangs over this late fall morning, and I eagerly reach for my glass teapot to start my morning tea ritual. Today I’ve chosen a rich, fruity selection from Nepal. This tea is from the Mist Valley Estate, located at an elevation of 4,200 feet in Jitpur, Ilam district, eastern Nepal.

I’ve read that Nepal started growing tea from seeds gifted to the Prime Minister from the Chinese Emperor many years ago. Unfortunately, due to political turmoil and economic struggle under an autocratic dynasty, the tea industry failed to grow there at that time.

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In the 1950s, a new democratic constitution was written in Nepal causing a shift in the political system there and opening up the country to the rest of the world. The tea industry started to grow with help from private and public investment and has been growing there ever since.

I steeped the tippy leaves for 3 minutes with boiling point (212F) water.

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If you love a second flush Darjeeling then you will love this selection. The aroma is fragrant with dark grape notes. These notes carry on into the cup where they are joined by notes of stone fruit.

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I love the balance of honey sweetness and brisk astringency in the red-amber liquor.

Nepal produces some amazing teas, a great value compared to their pricier Darjeeling cousins.

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The warmth of this rich tea in my cup has chased away the chilly damp and restored my spirits.

What’s in your cup today?

“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.”

~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Saturday Morning Tea

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Good morning, dear tea friends! It may be autumn outside, with dried up leaves rattling against my house like old bones, but inside I have springtime in my cup. My morning cuppa is a beautiful selection from Japan, called Organic Gyokuro.

Produced in the spring from the first plucking of the tea bush, Gyokuro is one of Japan’s most treasured teas.

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What distinguishes a Gyokuro tea from other Japanese green teas is that as soon as the bushes start to flush with new growth, they are shaded. The first shading method, called tana, is when a black netting is thrown over trellises that have been built up around the rows of tea bushes. The second method, called jikagise, is when each bush is individually wrapped in cloth.

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The bushes will grow in the shade for approximately 3 weeks.  The shading increases the chlorophyll production which in turn affects the balance of caffeine, flavanols and sugar in the leaf.  The absence of photosynthesis also increases the theanine component in the leaf.  Theanine is an amino acid that gives tea its vegetal taste.  With the increase of theanine, Gyokuro tea is quite vegetal.

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I steeped the leaves for 3 minutes in just under 180F water.

The dry leaves have a fresh, nutty aroma, however, when submerged in water, the leaves impart a sweet, vegetal fragrance.

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The infusion is the color of light yellow jade, sparkling in the sunlight streaming through my windows. The cup is rich and brothy with a strong umami flavor, complemented by a smooth sweetness. Truly a Japanese tea lover’s delight!

Enjoy your weekend and your tea!

“You expected to be sad in the fall. Part of you died each year when the leaves fell from the trees and their branches were bare against the wind and the cold, wintery light. But you knew there would always be the spring, as you knew the river would flow again after it was frozen. When the cold rains kept on and killed the spring, it was as though a young person died for no reason.”

~Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast